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The Federal Budget; More, more, more for defense: Reagan asks for his largest increase

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Two more years. That's how much longer it should take before United States military spending begins to level off. President Reagan's bugle call to rearm America with newer weapons and better-trained soldiers, sailors, and airmen was heard again here Wednesday.

This time the President asked for the largest Defense Department increase of his four-year term.

The military agenda spelled out by Reagan & Co. remains much the same as it has been since 1981. They want new planes, especially the B-1 bomber. A 600-ship Navy with 15 aircraft carriers. Four restored battleships. Higher military pay. Better training. More flight time for pilots to gain experience. More steaming time for ships. The Peacekeeper (MX) strategic missile. More submarines. A rapid deployment force. Better communications. More research. Space weapons.

This time the President is asking for 13 percent more money - $305 billion in the 1985 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. That's $16 billion less than the armed services asked for, but it shook some members of Congress.

Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia, a key Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said there is no question the budget request would be cut. The only question is ''when and how much it will be reduced.''

After next year's record increase, Mr. Reagan wants another 9.2 percent in 1986. But that would be it. The Reagan military buildup would be largely complete. America's deterrent power would be essentially restored, says Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger.

In later years, Mr. Weinberger promises that increases will be on the order of 3.5 to 3.9 percent - just about enough to keep up with inflation.

The military budget has been a political battlefield since Mr. Reagan took office.

Democrats have zeroed their fire at everything from the B-1 bomber (Walter Mondale would ''terminate'' it) to the rapid-deployment force (John Glenn attacks it as ''not rapid, not deployable, and not a real force''). George McGovern pounces on the military as a ''wasteful, bloated monster.''


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